Humans are deeply prone to error and deception. But sometimes they don’t always get it wrong or intend to deceive, which makes them even trickier: they’re not even consistent in their inconsistencies. These statements apply even more to the wise than to the foolish, because the well-educated are more easily manipulated by imagination. But anyone is susceptible to its power.

Imagination’s age-old adversary is reason, and imagination gleefully lords its power over it. Imagination holds sway over rich and poor, the sick and the healthy, the happy and the sad. It can blunt senses and emotions or heighten them. It might be annoying to see imagination dominate reason, but reason will never win. Man’s reflexive actions are the work of imagination—not reason. It can truly be called our “second nature.”

What is it that causes us to revere some men and despise others? It is not reason, however dispassionate we might consider ourselves. It is imagination. Reason lulls one to sleep while imagination invigorates, for good and for evil. Anyone who chooses to act on reason will not be able to incite action in others nor oneself. Reason never beats emotion, but imagination beats reason all the time. Whatever the words of a poem or speech may be, the tone in which they are delivered will influence the way we perceive them.

The mystery and power of imagination is well understood by doctors, lawyers, scientists, and priests. Without ostentatious outfits, the learned would not fool the commoner. By parading around in such attire, they stir up imagination and in so doing win respect.

The Shop at…Books and Music